IBM is suing to stop its PowerPC technical whiz, a 26-year IBM veteran, from taking a job with rival Apple.
In a lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Manhattan on Oct. 22, Big Blue alleges that IBM Vice President of Microprocessor Technology Development Mark Papermaster's knowledge of "significant and highly confidential IBM trade secrets" could "irreparably harm" the company if he is allowed to work for Apple. Papermaster resigned on Oct. 21 to take a job at Apple. But IBM claims that Papermaster signed a noncompetition agreement in 2006 pledging not to work for competitors for one year after the conclusion of his employment with IBM.
There's a lot at stake with Papermaster planning to set up shop at Apple. Here are five reasons why IBM is suing Apple.
1. Apple Is Poised To Steal IBM's PowerPC Thunder With A New Innovative Enterprise System
Apple isn't shelling out big bucks for Papermaster for bragging rights. Apple plainly and simply has its sights on leveraging Papermaster's PowerPC intellectual capital and put it to use by building an enterprise system that has all the ingredients that make Apple Apple: a more elegant design and user experience backed up by innovative technology. Letting Papermaster loose at Apple is the equivalent of giving an inventor the chance to work with the Albert Einstein of computing: Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Papermaster is not only IBM's PowerPC brain trust, he was also IBM's Vice President of Blade Server Development. The blade market is the most innovative and explosive segment of the enterprise computing market. Right now there is a big demand for blades that take up less space and generate less power and electricity. Apple is clearly looking at what it can bring to the table to make current state of the art blade systems in terms of size, design and power consumption and make them obsolete. Papermaster has the technical muscle, but Jobs has the vision. This is a high stakes blade server computing land grab. IBM knows it. And it will do anything to stop Papermaster from teaming with Jobs.
3. Apple Gets Cloud Computing Intellectual Capital That Could Come Back To Bite IBM In The Backside
To do cloud computing right you need hardware smarts. That's what Papermaster brings to Apple. Besides getting a chip and server whiz, Apple is also getting a top technical mind that could propel the graphical user interface kingpin into the cloud computing stratosphere. Up until now, Apple's cloud product, MobileMe, has been, to put it kindly, troubled. Papermaster's talent can be used to not only shore up MobileMe, but to make Apple a big time player in the cloud going up against cloud powers like Salesforce.com. Apple's iTunes may be the biggest cloud application in the world. Can Papermaster take what Apple has learned with iTunes and translate it into a business cloud computing environment that rocks the world? That's not that big a stretch given Papermaster's hardware smarts and Apple's own software smarts.
4. Apple Plans To Become A Processor Power For Small Devices
It's no mistake that Apple made the move to bring Papermaster to the company after it acquired P.A. Semi earlier this year. Apple purchased P.A. Semi, a 150-person company founded by the lead designer of the highly regarded StrongARM and Alpha processor. Put Papermaster side by side with P.A. Semi founder Dan Dobberpuhl and you've instantly got a processor design powerhouse poised to design and build new processors that could power the next generation iPhone and T1. Apple is known for using its technology to build an imaginative and compelling user experience, but Jobs may finally have learned his lesson with the Mac graphical user interface debacle being exploited by Microsoft's big broad licensing efforts. Can you imagine if Apple decides to build a bigger iPhone franchise by selling chips and software to companies looking to do knock offs?
5. Letting Papermaster Join Apple Without A Legal Fight Opens The Door For A Technical Brain Drain
IBM used to be the place you went to as a researcher and scientist if you wanted to break scientific barriers. Let's face it, the government used to look at IBM as one of the crown jewels of the capitalist system. IBM still has one of the biggest R&D budgets in the world. And is still leading the charge on a host of technical and scientific breakthroughs. The fact is if IBM lets Papermaster go without a fight it opens the door for many other IBM whiz kids to take their toys and walk out the door. Believe me, IBM's endless team of high-priced lawyers will use every tactic in their legal playbooks to tie Papermaster and Apple up in court. You thought the IBM antitrust suit went on forever. Wait. You ain't seen nothin' yet.